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Obama takes action against patent-holding firms behaving like 'trolls'

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President Obama Tuesday took several actions to protect patent holders from “frivolous” litigation and to spur innovation, the White House said.

Mr. Obama issued five executive orders that he said will strengthen the quality of patents issued by the government. The White House said some of the actions are aimed at “patent trolls,” companies that, in the president’s words “don’t actually produce anything themselves,” and instead attempt “to essentially leverage and hijack somebody else’s idea and see if they can extort some money out of them.”

Certain firms collect patents to pursue licensing fees, rather than to make new products. They say their business practice is legal, and that they’re helping to protect investors.

To help deter questionable lawsuits, the administration is ordering the Patent and Trademark Office to start a rule-making process to require patent holders to disclose the owner of a patent.

Among other steps, the PTO will provide new training to its examiners on scrutiny of claims and develop strategies to improve claim transparency in fields such as software.

“As technology evolves more rapidly than ever, we must ensure our patent system keeps pace,” the White House said.

The administration also is recommending several legislative proposals, including easier awarding of attorneys’ fees to the winning parties in patent disputes.

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About the Author
Dave Boyer

Dave Boyer

Dave Boyer is a White House correspondent for The Washington Times. A native of Allentown, Pa., Boyer worked for the Philadelphia Inquirer from 2002 to 2011 and also has covered Congress for the Times. He is a graduate of Penn State University. Boyer can be reached at

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